Summer camp sweethearts return to camp for vibrant, fun, unique engagement photos…
Dani shared, “Before Dustin and I were even engaged, we knew we wanted Lisa to be our photographer because of the previous sessions she has done with Dustin’s family. I actually contacted Lisa *before we were engaged* asking about her availability during our preferred wedding season. I was so nervous that she would be fully booked and my dream of having her photograph my wedding would be crushed. Thankfully, she had some openings and we were able to book her! We actually chose our wedding date around her availability!”
She continued, “Lisa is incredible at finding the most creative angles and reflections, turning simple pictures into pure art. After following her accounts and blog pages, I knew that Lisa would do whatever it took to get the perfect shot. We knew she would be able to capture our fun personalities as well as our love for the place where we met. I’ve had my picture taken throughout my whole life, but Dustin is a little more shy in front of a camera–Lisa was able to make us both feel completely comfortable during our session, which allowed Dustin’s goofy personality to really show.”
Dustin added, “Lisa took my high school senior pictures and my family’s pictures, so I knew I wanted her to photograph my wedding too. Lisa really is the best. Getting a different photographer honestly wasn’t something I even considered.”
Aw thanks for your votes of confidence! It was such a pleasure getting to know your family over the years and it is such a joy for me to watch it grow! I hope these are just the sort of creative, colorful, authentic, artistic, fun shots that you two were hoping for! I *love* shooting in late fall because of the interesting light and colors– I still can’t get over the color of the mountain in this one, your expressions are also priceless!
Dani shared, “Camp YoliJwa was the perfect location for our shoot; it’s up in the mountains surrounded by woods, the lodge and property are absolutely beautiful, and it was where Dustin and I met! We had both decided to be counselors and were placed on the same team, which meant that we got to spend the majority of the week together with our campers.”
I was obsessed with the colors in this shot– the rust of the leaves and the cabin and the complimentary blues and greens of the roof, mountains and ever greens. I love capturing a wide variety of shots that show both emotional connection (like the one above) and physical surroundings (like this photograph), I also used a tilt-shift technique to really draw attention to them:
Dani continued, “Dustin and I had an instant connection, which didn’t blossom into a relationship until 6 months later. We were able to continue counseling there together for the next three summers while we were dating, and it was always my favorite week of the summer!”
She concluded, “Now that we are getting married, we knew that we definitely wanted to be able to include this special place in our wedding somehow, and going back to camp for out engagement photos seemed to be the perfect way!” Such a sweet moment– I love her hair and the forest and mountain backdrop.
Dani shared, “Dustin and I made the executive decision to not tell our campers that we were dating, so no one knew except the other counselors. We’d try to meet up once the campers went to bed if we could, which was really nice after being apart all day.”
I thought this really got across the idea of a “secret romance” at twilight haha…
While I love capturing creative images of a couple I also make sure to capture a few more traditional portraits as well. I love this one– wow those smiles and wow those baby blues…
I like to play around with different camera settings, here all the attention goes to the classic wooden camp sign with yellow hand carved letters. If you look in the background you can see Dani & Dustin holding hands.
Dustin shared, “From the very start I could tell we had a strong connection. Our personalities differ but I think that’s why we mesh together so nicely.”
Dani shared, “As camp counselors we would try to arrange an overlap of our free time in the afternoon to see each other and chat about our days. Most of those conversations took place on the rocking chairs on the porch. It was always so nice to rock and talk while watching the campers around us.
I love to play with windows, doors, reflections… they feel so ethereal and romantic and can sometimes convey the way things *feel*. Here you can see the rows of rocking chairs, the string lights, the historic wooden wrap around porch and Dani and Dustin chatting together in the warm evening light.
Dani explained, “Camp YoliJwa is a church camp specifically connected to Churches of God, and each church that’s included has their own rocking chair with the town’s name on the back. I’m from Enola and Dustin is from Shippensburg… a distance of about an hour that has been keeping us apart for the past 4 years.”
She continued, “We typically get to see each other once a week on the weekends, and we’ve been doing that for our entire relationship. So, another bonus of counseling at Camp YoliJwa together meant that we got to see each other every day for a whole week! These rocking chairs symbolize us coming together at Camp YoliJwa, from our respective home towns, and falling in love!”
The craziest part is that when they went to find their rocking chairs (there had to have been 50 rockers on the porch) Enola and Shippensburg’s chair were *already next to each other* How cool is that!?
Dustin shared, “Dani and I enjoy different hobbies and have different interests, but learning through each other has brought us very close and has taught me to appreciate new things. I am excited for our future life together and all the fun it will bring.”
They were always smiling, laughing and just enjoying each other’s company. Here I climbed up in a tree house on the playground to frame them in a way that you could see the child-like stick fence and the wooden panels of the tree house, as well as the lake and pines. I think it captures camp and the playful side of their relationship well.
Dani reminisced, “Each year at camp we had a Dinner Theater Night. They had a Titanic skit and I would be Rose and he would be Jack. We got to act like a couple and make everyone laugh, so it was always a highlight for me.”
This is actually a reflection in a puddle. I loved the blue light and the reflective orbs in the water that almost look like sequins. It felt like a Titanic moment for sure 🙂
Dani shared, “Dating Dustin is having to always be ready to get tackled, tickled, picked up, or have your knee knocked out from behind you… We are always joking around and messing with each other; we like to keep things light and fun. We laugh a lot together!”
Dustin shared, “It was so nice to be back at Camp YoliJwa. It incorporates the outdoors which is a big part of my life. I always enjoy the mountains and exploring.”
He laughed, “I would have even gotten pictures with my fishing pole by Lake Henrietta if Danielle would have let me!”
I love the colors and lines in this shot. Even though it is very late fall, there are red tinted leaves on the ground, popping against white snow and green on the trees, ground and lake. They are framed in vertical lines of trees and horizontal lines in the scenery.
Dani shared, “After we started dating, Dustin and I were never put back on the same team, so we didn’t really get to see each other very much throughout the week. So our solution was to write each other notes.”
She continued, “Each counselor has a mailbox in the main lobby. Dustin would get up before me, write me a note, and stick it in my mailbox. My favorite part of each day was going down to the lobby to “check my mail” and read a sweet note from my loving boyfriend!”
Dani laughed, “As soon as you told us to try to balance on the log, I immediately thought of the scene from Dirty Dancing!”
She went on, “Dustin, of course, had no idea what I was talking about, but I had fun pretending to be Baby with my own handsome Johnny!”
Dani shared, “We wanted our engagement session to capture one of our favorite places, our story and our love. We wanted the vibe of it match our relationship, which is just fun and goofy and laid back.”
I mentioned Dirty Dancing was a movie from the late 1980’s and Dustin got up on one leg, Karate Kid style…
Dani shared, “Dustin is the sweetest, most kind-hearted man I have ever met. He cares for me with such a deep love and he is always willing to drop his plans to help others. He has such a fun and adventurous personality, always dreaming of the next grand experience for us to embark on together.”
While the sky was quite cloudy throughout the session, somehow we lucked out with an amazing sunset.
Dani explained, “At the end of the day, Dustin and I balance each other out so well! I’m more introverted and shy, where he is more extroverted and ambitious. Dustin definitely brings out the best of me! He is my absolute best friend and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him. He truly makes me the happiest girl in the world!”
Dani had brought along an umbrella because it had been raining most of the day and was quite cloudy. While it miraculously did not rain during the session, I wanted to incorporate the umbrella in one night time shot. I love how the colors and couple really pop in among the canopy of trees!
Dani and Dustin, thank you so much for choosing me to be your wedding and engagement photographer! It means so much to me, especially to be able to have the privileged of watching Dustin and his family grow!
To see more of Dustin, check out his Senior Portraits or his Family’s Portrait Session. I actually photographed two of his sibling’s as well, Emilyn & Dillon. To check out Dani & Dustin’s wedding venue, visit Heritage Restored.